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Cardboard Children - Christmas Shakedown

Ideas for Christmas presents

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Hello youse!

It’s been weeks of in-depth board game talk on here, digging down into the specifics and mechanics. I thought it might be nice to have a relaxed pre-Christmas chat about the new games on the shelves on the run-up to the Big Day. So, not really board game news, but more of an overview of what’s new and interesting in this beautiful gift-buying season.

PRE-CHRISTMAS SHAKEDOWN

WARHAMMER QUEST: THE CARD GAME

Well, this is out now. I told you about it before. It’s a streamlined little card game adaptation of Games Workshop’s excellent epic dungeoncrawling game. I really want this one, just to see if it can stack up with its daddy. Of course it can’t. It can’t. But I still want to see. This might make a good Christmas gift for someone who has that Games Workshop nostalgia. Plays 4 people, not too expensive – have any of you tried it? Holler at me.

BLOOD RAGE

Blood Rage is also on the shelves now, and it’s a big old Viking area control game from Eric Lang, who designed a lot of my favourite games. He did Chaos In The Old World, which is a modern classic, and his Warhammer: Invasion is one of the best card battle games you’ll ever play. Lang just seems to keep on smashing it out of the park with his designs, making big sellers (like Marvel: Dice Masters) and quirky beauties (Kaosball) alike. Blood Rage is a big production, with loads of miniatures and beautiful artwork. But it also has some incredible advance word – people who have tried this one seem to really love it. It’s going STRAIGHT on my Christmas list, because I trust this designer and I love Blood and I love to Rage. 2-4 players, for older players – but be warned, it’s an expensive one. All that plastic costs money.

TAIL FEATHERS

Hmm. Tail Feathers. This game, from Plaid Hat Games, is set in their Mice & Mystics world and it’s about birds battling through the skies. It’s an aerial combat game, it seems, with ground battle elements. And you can be guaranteed that this is going to be a beautiful looking thing. Little creatures skirmishing on beautiful maps, birds soaring around above and little mice scurrying around below… And if you have the Mice & Mystics stuff you can use your miniatures from that game in this game, even though it’s a standalone thing.

Here’s my thing, though. Mice & Mystics was a game that I really wanted to love. I thought the storybook element of that game was a beautiful thing, and I loved the whole setting. But the game itself always felt a bit of a slog. I was never entirely convinced by the combat, and everything just landed as a little bit too fussy for a game of its type. So I’m going to wait until I hear some opinions on Tail Feathers. I love the idea of it, but I’m gonna wait and see. If you’ve tried it, please holler at me.

504

So, 504 is here, at last. And at an RRP of EIGHTY QUID, it’s unlikely that this is one people are going to take a chance on without hearing a lot more about it. I’m going to have to pick it up at some point, because a game that is entirely modular – allowing you to play a total of 504 combinations of game elements, creating different play experiences – is something I just have to try. I would love to see some more experimental stuff like this. It’s interesting to just think of games in this way – as collections of different experiential elements, coming together to suggest a theme. It’s the kind of thing I can probably write about at boring length once I’ve played this, but I bet this thing will be an absolute BEAST to review properly. I mean, when will I have played it enough? If game 352 is excellent and game 290 is awaful, where does that leave me? How do you even – OH, I’LL WORRY ABOUT IT LATER.

HALO: FLEET BATTLES

Okay, so this one I have been hearing a lot about already. And I’m hearing good things. I don’t know if any of you know what “Halo” is, but it’s a popular video game series about a green robot man who shoots aliens who are smaller than him. There has been a lot of Halo games released, and the first one was a classic and the most recent ones don’t work properly. It can be played multiplayer too, and there are a lot of purples and blues, and some people even read books about the game’s story even though it doesn’t have one.

I’ve heard this described as a good introductory fleet battle game, as if that’s the kind of thing anyone is looking for. What is good is that the game is said to be very clean and straightforward to play, and the wee spaceships are absolutely brilliant toys. Expansions are rolling out for the goodies and the baddies, and you could maybe spend Christmas recreating some of the greatest battles of the Halo story (it doesn’t really have one) on your kitchen table.

Miniature games are expensive, but I really want this one. Maybe this will be my Christmas gift to myself. Also, I don’t know why I just spent a while slagging off Halo. I love Halo.

CONCLUSIONS

Okay, so that’s a few of the interesting BIG games coming out in the run-up to Christmas. If you’ve had a chance to try any of them, can we all help each other by commenting about that? Let’s not risk anyone buying a turkey this year.

Next week, everything goes all STAR WARS again, as I take a look at another major Christmas release. A board game that you can buy in proper shops, and everything! Yep, next week I’ll be telling you all about the surprising “STAR WARS: RISK”.

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Robert Florence

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